United Artists released Heaven’s Gate to theaters on November 19, 1980; grossing $3.5 million worldwide on a budget of $44 million. Michael Cimino directed the epic western which starred Kris Kristofferson, Christopher Walken, and John Hurt.
Heaven’s Gate 30-Second Summary
Heaven’s Gate starts out in 1870. Jim Averill and Billy Irvine graduate from Harvard College. The Reverend Doctor gives the new grads parting words on the importance of education and associating a cultivated mind with an uncultivated one. A drunk Billy then gives a speech full of his youthful and irreverent views on life. There is a big celebration afterwards where the male students serenade and women present. Averill’s girlfriend is one of them.
Twenty years pass, and Averill arrives to the boom town of Casper, Wyoming. He’s on his way north to Johnson County where he is now a marshal. The poor European immigrants immigrating there find themselves in a conflict with the wealthy cattle barons known as the Wyoming Stock Growers Association. These starving newcomers are forced to steal their cattle to survive.
Averill’s friend, Nate Champion, is an enforcer for the Association. He kills a settler for rustling one cow, and then intimidates another looking to steal one more. The Association holds a board meeting where Frank Canton, its head, tells members, including the still drunk Irvine, his plan to name and kill 125 settlers, thieves, and anarchists.
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